Archive for October, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different

October 28, 2005

SobekPundit recently interviewed Steve, who apparently bolted town just before the interview was posted, so I’m left to pass along the link. The results… well, the results defy description, so just click:

SobekPundit interviews VodkaPundit. And Cooper Anderson. Or Anderson Cooper, or whatever that guy’s name is.

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What He Said

October 28, 2005

After reading the much-discussed Daniel Lyons attack on blogs in Forbes and Dan Gillmor’s (much more civil) response, my decidedly-liberal old friend Lein Shory emailed:

The article’s really quite astonishing.

You know, after reading [Gillmor’s post] and the accompanying comments, it occurred to me that one reason blogs are viewed as dangerous is that they serve as means to the (at least ostensible) ends of both liberals and conservatives. Those ends are definitely not always the same, and they come from different motivations, but if liberals want “freedom of information” and conservatives want the “marketplace of ideas,” those are both at least neighboring territories, and blogs go a little ways toward making them more of a reality. Corporations, big media, the government–any entrenched power–can’t help but be nervous, and will eventually seek ways to fight them.

Lacking a more eloquent response, I’m reduced to saying, “Yep.”

Serenity Later

October 16, 2005

This is one of those cases when I’m genuinely sorry to have been right, but “Serenity” is officially a box-office flop. Despite all the glowing reviews and sparkling word-of-mouth from the converted, the movie never crossed over to a larger audience. After just over two weeks in release, “Serenity” has only grossed $22 million, and won’t come close to earning back its production budget of $39 million, much less the money Universal put into promoting it over the last several months.

The good news is, in this day and age the box office is not even remotely the last stop for a feature film. Given the size of the established “Firefly” fan base, the movie will certainly turn a profit on DVD (and it won’t surprise me if that release is rushed up, perhaps to just before Christmas). Based on how well that disc sells, creator Joss Whedon may well get the green light for a sequel or two–but they won’t be appearing in your local theater. Direct-to-video is much more likely. It’s very doubtful that Whedon would get another $39 million each to make them, but I imagine he could do pretty well with a half or even a third of that.

Still, too bad, and also a reminder that “blogosphere buzz” has its limits in the larger world.

What A Wookiee

October 13, 2005

Peter Mayhew, much better known as Chewbacca, becomes an American citizen on Monday:

“I am feeling very happy about it,” Mayhew said. “Whatever people say about America, it is still one of the most wonderful countries in the world, despite the politics, religion and everything else that goes on.”

Better yet, Chewie isn’t just becoming an American–he’s also a Texan.

Cool. Or as they say on Kashyyyk, “GRAAAAAAHNK!”

It’s About Time

October 10, 2005

Jack Shafer in Slate is bemoaning the idea that the US Government might actually start enforcing the laws against disclosure of classified information:

Under the espionage statute, continues Johnston, “a government official or a private citizen who passed classified information to anyone else in or outside the government could potentially be charged with a felony, if they transferred the information to someone without a security clearance to receive it.”

National-security reporters—none of whom have clearances—receive classified information for a living. If the government used espionage law to investigate government leaks to the press, the effect would be an unofficial secrets act criminalizing thousands, if not tens of thousands, of annual conversations between sources and reporters.

Shafer goes on to bemoan how awful this would be, noting,

For one thing, no Department of Defense, National Security Council, Department of State, or White House staffer with security clearances would ever speak—on or off the record—to any reporter about any sensitive topic. The sheer legal exposure would prove too much. Knowing they’re explicitly liable for indictment, they’ll just stop talking to reporters.

Well, damnit, good. I’ve got news for you, Jack–what they’re doing is already illegal. Right or wrong, it’s the law, and they’re breaking it every time they leak something that’s classified to a newspaper employee.

Speaking as just one of the multitudes of “little people” with security clearances who’re regularly reminded of the severe legal penalties for just making an honest mistake in failing to protect classified information (never mind deliberately revealing anything), I can’t say I feel any sympathy for the bigger wigs in D.C. who just as regularly commit violations that would put me in jail.

The law applies to everybody equally–or at least it ought to. Pat Leahy, Dick Shelby, Sandy-freakin’-Berger and everybody who works for them ought to face the same jeopardies I do when it comes to protecting this information, and if Jack Shafer and “national security reporters” don’t like it, tough.

You want to try and change those laws and/or their penalties, go right ahead. It’s a free country. But don’t sit there and tell me the “big boys” deserve the special privilege they’ve been getting from federal prosecutors who don’t want to cross the press.

Tomatillo Chile Verde Chicken Enchiladas

October 8, 2005

This is tonight’s dinner; I’ll cheat and list the links I ripped off the recipes from, but note my alterations.

For the Tomatillo Chile Verde Sauce, use Emeril’s recipe here (just the sauce), but substitute for the pickled chiles listed one fresh jalapenos and one fresh Anaheim chile, both seeded and chopped. For the chicken enchiladas, use this recipe; once again substitute a fresh jalapeno or two (or even a serrano if you want more heat) for the canned stuff.

We eat in ten minutes, with Spanish rice, beer, and homemade salsa. Like beer, tomatillos are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Gotta go…

No Suprise

October 8, 2005

Michael Barone:

I am struck by the sublime indifference of most critics of Bush’s Iraq policy to the fate of the Iraqi people. They are totally unexultant about the overthrow of a vicious dictatorship and seem to have no interest at all in what would happen to Iraqis if we leave suddenly.

I don’t understand why anybody as knowledgeable as Barone would be at all surprised. The western Left didn’t give a tinker’s damn for the fates of the Iranians, Lebonese, Nicaraguans, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Koreans, Cubans, Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, or even Russians, so long as the eeeevil American right-wingers were dealt a political defeat (and let’s not even start on Israelis).

Why should anybody be surprised thay they could now care less about Iraqis?

Coming Soon: iFlicks

October 5, 2005

Apple Computer will announce a new product and/or service next week. As per their usual methods, the company isn’t giving many hints as to what that’s going to be, but here’s what I’m expecting.

Most observers are predicting a “video iPod” that will play back video on a hand-sized device. Not me. I’m predicting not a video iPod, but rather an “iFlicks” service (they may or may not use that name) enabled by a new Airport-Express-on-steroids wireless widget with a video out, as well as a snazzy Apple remote control (perhaps looking something like this) for iTunes and iFlicks.

All this will enable Mac G5 owners to download high-resolution (but not HD, not yet) movies from Apple to their hard drives and play them back on televisions in another part of the house. G4 Macs won’t have enough horsepower, this is intended partially to drive G5 iMac sales (so there goes the Mac Mini as an HDPC theory, at least for now), but mostly to establish Apple as the primary source for legal movie downloads.

In other words, Apple makes a bid to become the Blockbuster and Netflix combined of the 21st Century, without the inventory, bricks-and-mortar overhead, or shipping hassles.

This isn’t an original prediction on my part, and I don’t have any inside info (full disclosure: I worked for Apple briefly way back in 1993). Tech pundit Bob Cringely and “As Seen On TV” (an either knowlegable or very gifted fake of a Slashdot poster who suddenly vanished a little while back) have been predicting this for months. I think they’re right.

For what it’s worth, I emailed Cringely this morning, and he agrees. We’ll see on the 12th.